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Nebraska Football: It was Not Fun - Buckeyes Mash The Huskers 56-14

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The Huskers fall to Ohio State in a ugly game that shows how far this program still has to go to be a contender.

Ohio State v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Well, this pretty much went as any realistic Husker fan should have expected. There were a few bright spots - namely J.D. Spielman. This program has a long way to go and the answers on how to get there are few and far between.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. The HOT TAEKS are all over the place, but the root cause analysis is lacking. Until Husker football takes a long look at what is keeping this program from winning conference titles and makes informed and forward-looking decisions, we will continue alternating “nine wins” with “crap, we suck again”.

I don’t know what those decisions should be and the person who has to make them is only a rumor at this point. I won’t be watching the the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ as much as I will be watching the ‘why’.

Here’s your recap.

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Ohio State won the toss and deferred.

The Husker offense went 3 and out, but thanks to good field position from the kickoff penalty and a great punt by Caleb Lightbourn, the Buckeyes were pinned inside the five yard line.

It was evident early that the wind was going to affect the passing game greatly. The Buckeyes were moving the ball well on the ground until Dicaprio Bootle (playing safety due to injuries to Aaron Williams and Antonio Reed) laid a lick on Buckeye receiver Paris Campbell, dislodging the ball. The play was whistled dead but reviewed for a possible interception. The call stood and brought up third down and 4 yards for OSU.

A couple plays later, Ohio State sprung a 51 yard run down the sideline for a J.K. Robbins touchdown, beating Lamar Jackson badly. The kick was good.

Ohio State 7 Nebraska 0

The pooch kickoff was caught by Conner Ketter and the Huskers started their drive on their 33 yard line. A J.D. Spielman jet sweep and Mikale Wilbon run netted one yard and then Lee’s desperation pass thankfully fell to the turf with no Buckeyes near it. Nick Bosa’s pass rush made Nick Gates look like he was having high tea.

Lightbourn’s punt was fielded near the 25 yard line. After a short return and subsequent penalty were factored in, Ohio State took over at their 15 yard line.

The Buckeyes marched down the field and just when the Blackshirts looked like they could get a stop (a third down and 9) J.T. Barrett escaped for a touchdown. The kick was good. There are still over five minutes left in the first quarter.

Ohio State 14 Nebraska 0

On the ensuing kickoff, J.D. Spielman made something out of nothing, bringing the kickoff out near the 30 yard line.

Nebraska gained their first first down of the game and then an Ozigbo run for a another first down was called back on a questionable holding call on Nick Gates. Nebraska resorted to the screen game, but went nowhere and had to send out Lightbourn again. The punt went into the end zone for a touchback.

The first quarter ended with a significant advantage for the Buckeyes.

Second Quarter

J.T. Barrett took a shot at the end zone and Dicaprio Bootle was flagged for pass interference (his second of the game). Ohio State delayed the inevitable with a couple of penalties of their own (false start, illegal formation) on the drive. This time it was K.J. Hill with the 15 yard touchdown reception.

Ohio State 21 Nebraska 0

Nebraska’s drive started on the 25 yard line. After a couple of promising plays, Devine Ozigbo was stopped on third and short. Out came Caleb Lightbourn and the Blackshirts were again put out on the field after very little rest. One had to wonder if the Husker defense was having trouble stopping Ohio State this early in the game, what it might look like after exhaustion and lack of depth began to rear their ugly heads.

Ohio State’s offense took over on their 29.

We can sum up this defensive series using a quote from the game announcer. “I haven’t seen this Buckeye passing game look this good in a while!”.

The series ended with a 31 yard J.T. Barrett pass to Terry McLaurin for a Buckeye touchdown.

Ohio State 28 Nebraska 0

Public Service Announcement

J.D. Spielman returned the kickoff to the 15, but a holding penalty moved the Huskers back half the distance to the goal. The drive started first and 10 at the 8 yard line. The offense mustered a first down and then faced third and 11. Tanner Lee delivered a bomb to J.D. Spielman that was SOOOOO close to being a touchdown, but a shoestring tackle brought him down at the Buckeye 45. Nebraska failed to convert a fourth and five and the Buckeyes took over at their 41 yard line. There were 3 12 minutes left in the first half.

This Buckeye possession was just as efficient as the previous ones. The Blackshirts were on their heels and everything Ohio State tried (run, pass, scramble) gained yardage.

Ohio State 35 Nebraska 0

Ohio State had racked up 366 yards of total offense so far.

The Huskers went for a fourth and one with 42 seconds left in the half and the Huskers on their own 36. OSU had all their timeouts. If Nebraska did not make this first down, it was inviting another Buckeye touchdown before half.

The Huskers converted the first down (pass to Spielman). The Buckeye prevent defense allowed Nebraska to dink and dunk their way down the field, but time was against the Huskers. The Hail Mary was in Pierson-El’s arms but he couldn’t quite reel it in and the half ended.

Husker writers were probably researching the last time the Huskers were shut out at home.

Halftime

  • Surprising (to me) was that time of possession at the half only favored the Buckeyes by a minute (15:35 to 14:25 for Nebraska).
  • Ohio State is averaging 8.7 yards PER PLAY
  • The Buckeyes are 6-6 on third downs while Nebraska is 2-9.
  • Nebraska has the advantage in tackles for loss with two compared to one for Ohio State (#BrightSide)

Third Quarter

Drew Brown’s kickoff went into the end zone for a touchback. Mike Weber powered the Buckeyes across the 50 yard line. The passing game moved them into the red zone. Barrett had connected with nine different receivers, including Rashod Berry for another Buckeye touchdown with 11:29 left in the third quarter.

Ohio State 42 Nebraska 0

J.D. Spielman took the kickoff out to the Nebraska 23, where Tanner Lee and the offense took over. After a couple of plays, J.D. Spielman slipped through the Buckeye zone and found the end zone!

Ohio State 42 Nebraska 7

Shutout averted. The 77 yard catch brought Spielman’s total for the game to 143 receiving yards. Stanley Morgan was listed at the start of the second half as “questionable” with an injury.

Drew Brown’s kickoff went out the back of the end zone and the Buckeyes took the field at their own 25.

Run the ball a bit. Husker personal foul penalty (Freedom Akinmoladun) Pass the ball a bit. Buckeye touchdown. 7:49 left in the third quarter. This drive brought Ohio State over 500 yards of total offense.

Ohio State 49 Nebraska 7

Nebraska’s drive started on the 32 yard line. It was aided by an Ohio State pass interference penalty (Pierson-El was injured on the play - shoulder). How many wide receivers does Nebraska have left at this point?

Devine Ozigbo broke one loose for 46 yards, but that was followed by a false start. The Huskers had a first and 15 in the red zone and turned to Mikale Wilbon, who got them two yards.

Stanley Morgan re-entered the game at a great time and caught a 19 yard Tanner Lee touchdown pass. Drew Brown’s kick was good. Nebraska nosed over 250 yards of total offense for the game.

Ohio State 49 Nebraska 14

Twitter was enamored with Drew Brown’s tackle on the ensuing kickoff. #KickersArePeopleToo

On the ensuing Buckeye drive....THIS IS NOT A DRILL....the Huskers forced a fourth down. It was in no-man’s land (too long for a field goal and too short for a punt) and the Buckeyes chose to go for it. J.T. Barrett scrambled for the first down. Sigh.

The Blackshirts forced another fourth down (9 yards to go) after bringing Barrett down for a sack at the Husker 30 yard line. They converted the first down and a Nebraska “hands to the face” penalty was tacked on to the end of the play. (But for some reason, the “hands to the face” penalty of Ohio State on the sack was a situation where Nebraska had to choose the penalty or the play?) If any of you know the difference in the two situations, I’d love to hear it.

The third quarter ran out with the Buckeyes at first and goal. Ohio State has amassed 37 first downs. If Twitter is to be believed, this is a [bad] school record for Nebraska.

Fourth Quarter

The Blackshirts deserve some credit for looking like they still gave a damn, getting a tackle for loss, and making Ohio State work for their next touchdown.

Ohio State 56 Nebraska 14

On the kickoff, Spielman made a poor decision, fielding the kickoff a yard or so deep and only managed 11 yards on the return, giving the Husker offense a long field. Between Tyjon Lindsey, Mikale Wilbon, and J.D. Spielman (who else?) the Huskers managed to move near midfield.

Conner Young (tight end) made a nice sideline catch and drew the pass interference penalty, and gave the Huskers a first down at the 30. Tanner Lee nearly threw an interception after that play, but fortunately Nebraska lived to play another down (a Lee throwaway). This was followed by an incomplete pass and a failed fourth and 10 attempt (a Spielman catch for seven yards).

Ohio State sent in the backup QB for the ensuing drive, Dwayne Haskins. then the third QB was spotted (Joe Burrow) as the Buckeyes worked their way into the red zone. Mo Barry notched a sack, forcing Ohio State just back out of the red zone. That was followed by an incomplete pass. Ohio State’s fourth and 11 pass into the end zone fell incomplete. Huskers took over on their 21 yard line with a little over four minutes left to go in the game.

Patrick O’Brien entered the game for Nebraska. J.D. Spielman continued to add to his school-record receiving performance, becoming the first Husker receiver to ever reach 200 yards in a game. He went down in a great deal of pain after being dumped on his shoulder and one has to wonder why he was still in the game at this point (2 minutes left in the game). Between his kickoff duties, a 40+ point deficit, and a school record in receiving yards, it seems assinine to even trot him out on the field.

/Rant over

Husker tight end Jack Stoll got in on the action, converting a first down. (At this point, I’m just reporting plays to get some of these young/second string guys into the recap. On third down, Patrick O’Brien scrambled out of bounds. There were three seconds remaining in the game with the Huskers on the 20 yard line.

O’Brien took a shot at the end zone and it was intercepted to mercifully end the game.

Final: Ohio State 56 Nebraska 14

Better than 62-3. Progress? (No, but it really could have been worse.)

Ohio State amassed 633 yards of total offense, while Nebraska got to 393 yards (349 of those through the air). Nebraska notched the only sack of the game and earned five tackles for loss (compared to OSU’s one TFL).

The Buckeyes did not punt at all, but did go for it on three fourth downs (converting two of those). They averaged a very healthy 7.4 yards per play and possessed the ball for over 35 minutes (compared to 24:45 for Nebraska). They gained 41 first downs, shattering the school record at Nebraska.

Up next for Nebraska is a much-needed bye week, followed by a feisty Purdue team on October 21.